The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) unanimously approved a port alliance between Seattle and Tacoma. Formerly rival Washington State ports, the new Northwest Seaport Alliance brings terminal operation and marketing under a single umbrella. Officials indicated that this is not a merger and that both ports will remain separate organizations and retain ownership of their respective assets. But the Seattle-Tacoma alliance creates the third-largest container gateway in the U.S. after the Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey ports.
The catalyst for this agreement is the increased need for deeper waterways and expanded facilities as more 20,000 TEU box ships are constructed. Seattle and Tacoma now have the means to reconstruct or combine smaller facilities into bigger, modern terminals better suited for large container ships.
The Northwest Seaport Alliance also creates the Port Development Authority (PDA), which will focus on investing in cargo, rail and truck capacity as well as client recruitment and retention. The PDA will begin operation August 1.
"The Pacific Northwest is a key region for inbound and outbound United States cargo, moving cargo not only for the regional trade but also cargo headed to destinations throughout the entire US Midwest. This alliance will help the region remain competitive into the future," said FMC Chairman Mario Cordero.
This agreement comes one week after the Washington State Legislature approved a $16.2 billion transportation package expected to speed the movement of cargo through ports and freighter corridors.